August 2022
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D.L. Mendis: Good Governance, Lasting Peace

Good governance has become an important issue in national and global politics. It has gained importance with the demise of the Cold War and the resurgence of democratic ideals. The emergence of global threats and challenges has further accentuated its importance. According to Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, good governance must go beyond national interests, national boundaries and legal obligations to embrace interreligious values in order to establish lasting peace.

At the international level, good governance is associated with the reform of the UN Charter and UN agencies in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. It also deals with global economic and social threats and challenges such as abject poverty, disease, armed conflicts, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, corruption, narcotic drugs and organized crime. In dealing with threats and challenges, the UN has not been successful; therefore, Rev. Dr. Moon speaks of an “Abel UN” as a UN that “offers its efforts for peace to heaven, ceaselessly living for the sake of others.”

At the national level, good governance relates to the rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, access to justice, free and fair elections, humanitarian assistance and strategies to deal with the global threats and challenges. To this end, Rev. Dr. Moon speaks of changing the culture of heart in order to achieve these standards.

Many criteria for good governance are advocated by politicians, religious teachers, scholars and writers of diverse disciplines from all continents and at all levels. However, a model for good governance at national and international levels would require the following criteria:

  • Governments must adhere to well-established universal values relating to good governance.
  • Governments must deal effectively with threats, challenges and the changes necessary to enhance good governance.
  • Governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector must cooperate fully with each other to deal with threats, challenges and changes.
  • Governments must recognize the importance of multilateralism at the international level and pluralism at the national level.
  • Good leadership and family values are the key elements for good governance and lasting peace.

UN treaties contain important universal values and constitute an effective tool for good governance at national and international levels. Hence, in developing a model, these treaties and their implementation can be fertilized by the ideas of good governance and lasting peace propounded by Rev. Dr. Moon, through the intervention of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF):

UN treaties occupy a predominant position at international and national levels. Treaties that deal with human rights, humanitarian law, terrorism, environmental protection, trade and development, law of the sea, trafficking in narcotic drugs, disarmament and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, genocide, transnational organized crime and corruption are connected with good governance and lasting peace.

The UN Charter is the most important UN treaty. It empowers the Security Council to maintain international peace and security in the world. It provides for use of force as a last resort if diplomacy fails to resolve a conflict through negotiation. The Security Council and General Assembly resolutions are absolutely important for good governance at the international level. In particular, the General Assembly Resolutions on the Millennium Declaration 2000 and Dialogue among Civilizations set forth important goals which are inextricably interwoven with good governance and lasting peace.

Accordingly, the UN Charter requires reforms. The expansion of the Security Council is absolutely necessary to give legitimacy to the UN Charter. Otherwise, the UN Charter will look “undemocratic” in a changed political and economic order. The Secretary-General designate, Ban Ki-moon, will have to meet these challenges in regard to good governance and lasting peace at the international and national levels. In meeting these challenges, it is useful to make an in-depth study of Rev. Dr. Moon’s ideas of an “Abel” UN.

However, the efficacy of this model can be diminished without the universal application of important UN treaties relating to good governance such as climate change, sustainable development, the International Criminal Court, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, human rights, corruption, organized crime, narcotic drugs, bio-diversity, bio-safety and anti-personnel mines. The report on climate change by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern published in 2006 stresses the importance of protecting the climate and agreements such as the 1996 Kyoto Protocol not only for good governance but also for the survival of mankind. Faith-based organizations such as UPF can improve the quality of these legal instruments.

Good governance cannot be achieved without effective implementation of UN treaties. This is still the Achilles heel, despite many efforts undertaken by states, intergovernmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations. Implementation can also be enriched through the application of interreligious values.

At the international level, implementation of UN treaties is reviewed, monitored and verified by treaty organs such as the Committee on Human Rights, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Commission on Sustainable Development and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors. Unfortunately, the recommendations of such committees or commissions are not fully implemented in a majority of states, and innovative modalities must be established to ensure such implementation.

In regard to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the IAEA Board members have an enormous responsibility to verify violations on the basis of reports and not to act on political alliances. Compliance control measures are undertaken by the Security Council through the imposition of sanctions and use of force. These are controversial and delicate matters which need to be addressed diplomatically prior to any such action. In this regard, ideas of an “Abel” UN as propounded by Rev. Dr. Moon can help towards peaceful settlement of these disputes.

A holistic approach in regard to the implementation of UN treaties is necessary to achieve good governance at a national level. The complex issues regulated in UN treaties are interconnected and need the application of interreligious values. UN treaties, especially those relating to corruption, narcotic drugs and organized crime, require alliances and strategies with non-state actors for effective implementation. Preventive measures are as important as enforcement measures in the quest for good governance. Therefore, the role of faith-based organizations such as the UPF is of fundamental importance.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated in a recent report that we should move from “an era of legislation to an era of implementation.” In this regard, the United Nations Development Programme has initiated many projects and programs in developing countries to implement UN treaties. Some of these projects lack transparency and third-party evaluation to ensure their success and effectiveness.

UN treaties and their application can establish a measure of good governance. However, in order to establish lasting peace, there is a need to incorporate interreligious values into principles of good governance. After all, interreligious values teach nothing but peace at the international and national levels.

All religions have contributed to lasting peace in the world. Lord Buddha emphasized the importance of mindfulness in establishing inner peace (Satipatthana sutra). In the Bible, Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Prophet Mohammed said not to discriminate except on the basis of piety. All these statements tend to emphasize the importance of religious values. Rev. Dr. Moon’s idea of living for the sake of others is the ultimate goal for achieving lasting peace. Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and many others have also contributed immensely to the achievement of lasting peace in the world by living for the sake of others. If we can enhance such numbers by five percent, this world will be a different place.

Unfortunately, interreligious values have not impacted on good governance and lasting peace in all continents. Religious wars dominated the European continent for centuries. Invariably, this has led to secularism in Europe and the separation of church from state. Even the father of international law, Hugo Grotius, avoided extensive reference to religious values. It is indeed a paradox of history that these values have not fertilized modern international law and international relations.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Marxist doctrine proclaimed religion as the “opiate of the masses.” This was a huge setback which sent ripples around the world. Hence, religious values were discarded, especially in those countries that came under Soviet hegemony. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, people in these countries are reverting to religious values in an unprecedented manner and thereby provide hope for lasting peace.

The contribution of Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon to good governance and lasting peace is immeasurable. He established UPF to propagate principles of good governance in the twenty-first century by implementing interreligious values. He formally proposed that the United Nations establish an interreligious council within the UN system. The contributions made by UPF to enhance interreligious values would undoubtedly impact good governance and lasting peace.

A unique opportunity is at hand to shape the world order on good governance and interreligious values and not on individual or national self interests. All over the world, politicians and diplomats have acted more on national or individual self-interest and not on core interreligious values.

Hence, it is of paramount importance to incorporate interreligious values such as fairness, equity, merit, justice, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, good faith, trust, reconciliation and living for the sake of others into the principles of good governance to achieve lasting peace in the world. Only then can we avoid a clash of civilizations, religions or ethnicities and avoid conflict, poverty and underdevelopment.